Friday, June 26, 2015

American Ninja Warrior Taping

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Last night, actually, Tuesday morning, I attended the taping of American Ninja Warrior in Las Vegas.  It was the finals taping of Stage 1 and should air in September.
We got to the event around 11:45 PM and waited in line for about an hour before they let us in.  They let in all the athlete's family and friends in first and they occupied all the bleacher seating and let those with tickets to stand around.  Fortunately, in many instances, when the athlete finished, the friends and family also left and that allowed people to sit in the bleachers.
I stood in the area of the last 2 stations- an area where they had to run on 3 plastic circles and then jump up to some bars and then cross over to cargo netting and climb up and hit the buzzer.
When we got there, it took about 45 minutes before the first athletes came through.  There was some previous sessions and some of the workers were there since 5:00 in the morning.
The hosts, Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila were at the session and spent much of the evening in the announcer's box, but at times, they left the box and went to get some snacks and they did this while athletes were running.  My guess is that they will fill in the information later.  Unless they were on camera, these 2 rarely, if ever, talked to each other.  While they may have good chemistry together with each other, off camera, it may be something completely different.
The female host, Kristine Leahy, was a complete professional.  My first impression of her was that she was some kind of diva when I saw an assistant change and tie her shoes for her.  It seemed that she was being a diva or being lazy but I was wrong.
As luck had it, they decided to conduct the athlete's interviews right in front of where I was standing, with only a small fence between the athletes, Kristine and myself.  So, when the show airs sometime in September, I might be in a lot of TV shots, which I really didn't like or seek out.  It seems that no matter where I stood, they kept standing in front of me.  Considering I have a face for radio and I have very little emotion when cheering the athletes, this surprised me.  With people leaving, the TV people were getting desperate to find people to stand in back of the athletes during the interviews.
As I said earlier, I thought Kristine was a diva when her assistant changed and tied Kristine's shoes for her, but then I saw all the wires from the microphones on her back, I can see why she could not bend down and change the shoes by herself.  Kristine was very professional and I only saw her blow a line 1 time.  She had to memorize a lot of information in a very short time and treated everyone with respect.
The interviews were staged and usually occurred about 45-90 minutes after the athlete competed.  The male athletes were generally friendly towards the audience while the female athletes were pretty much full of themselves and loved to play for the camera.
We saw about 60 or so athletes compete in the 5 hours were there and about 60% of them successfully completed the course but the three female athletes, well, they didn't do so well.
While about 60% of athletes finished the course, some didn't even make it past the 1st stage.  2 athletes didn't go 5 seconds before they failed- probably nerves.
The show employed about 100 people at the venue.  The workers ranged from security, to assistants, cameramen/women, people cleaning the stages, directors, stars and many others.  Just for the interviews, they had a sound, light and cameraman, along with a director who told us how and when to clap and cheer and the star.  Every now and then, you would have a makeup lady giving Kristine additional makeup throughout the night.  I swear Kristine's face grew about an inch by the night was over.
There were about 100 or so athletes competing that night.  Most of them dressed in just a t-shirt and shorts, though others were shirtless or wore long pants. 
When the athlete completed the course, the athletes played for the cameras because there was only polite applause from the spectators.  Same with the interviews- they were staged as well.  The athletes were told how and when to go into the interview and some athletes threw water on their face to make it look like they were sweating or fell into the water.  Us spectators were told how and when to clap and cheer and several interviews took several takes, so we had to cheer and clap on cue several times for the same interview.
It was nice to see the families and friends cheering for their athlete, but once they were done and interviews were over, they pretty much left.  They also rarely cheered for other athletes.
A couple irritating things.  They never announced who the athlete competing was.  Also, not too many people came out for the show.  If you take away the friends and family of the athletes, maybe about 200 people showed up for the taping, which for Vegas, is like nothing.  They also did not provide very much seating for the people who came to watch the show and there were no souvenirs to buy.
So, it will be interesting to see how they edit the show and see if they leave me in some of the shots.
It was the first time I ever seen a TV show being taped.  It was quite interesting and look forward to seeing the episode and then return next year.

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